Over the past few weeks, the comments in certain posts have started to follow a trend that I really dislike: One commenter or poster makes an argument, and then someone who disagrees with that position attacks the writer personally, rather than critiquing their argument. This has led to some argumentative threads full of name-calling and insults.
That’s not what I’m trying to cultivate here — and frankly, it’s my blog (shared), so I can cultivate what I want to. I have put a lot of time and energy into this blog, and my co-bloggers have as well. None of us want to see threads turn into name-calling contests. It’s time to end this trend. So, here’s MY ultimatum — as one of the owners and operators of this blog. Read it well, since you will all be held to it.
1. Comments are expected to reflect different points of view. Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected. But those critiques should be of the ARGUMENT, not the PERSON. No insults.
Acceptable: Your argument is wrong.
Not acceptable: Your argument is wrong, so you must be an idiot.
2. As a general matter, we’re all believers around here. Some more so than others. You don’t have to believe in the Church, but comments that suggest that all believers are per se unintelligent or uninformed are not welcome. If that’s you’re view, you’re in the wrong place — head on over to exmormon.org or similar sites for ax-grinding company.
Acceptable: I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Also acceptable: I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, because of Adam-God, Kinderhook plates, etc., etc.
Not acceptable: No intelligent person can believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
3. On the flip side, it is also unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness. Unless you’re a commenter’s Bishop or Stake President, don’t presume to call them to repentance.
Acceptable: I think that all church members should not watch R-rated movies.
Not acceptable: You are wicked and must repent because you have said that members may watch R-rated movies.
4. Other rules (unrelated to the problems with insults):
a. We’re not an ad agency. If you have something useful to say, and you’ve said it in your blog or your book, then go ahead and mention it. But don’t comment just to plug unrelated blog posts, books, and so on.
b. Keep it intelligible. That means keeping wacky acronyms to a minimum; writing in plain English; proofreading; spell checking.
5. These rules will be enforced by the blog admins — me, Gordon, Nate, Matt. I’m not 100% sure how we’re going to enforce these; as a general matter, I believe it will be a mix of deleting offending comments, warning offenders, and where necessary banning IP addresses.
6. These rules may be added to or modified as necessary. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
I have really liked the community that has formed around this blog. I hate to have to lay down the law, but I’m quite concerned that negative comments will destroy the thoughtful community that we have enjoyed here.